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Al Franken accused of groping and kissing woman without her consent

Leeann Tweeden said she felt "disgusted and violated" by the incidents, which happened in 2006

    The picture of Al Franken groping Leeann Tweeden (Credit: Twitter/Leeann Tweeden)

    Al Franken, the Jewish former Saturday Night Live comedian and a current United States senator, has been accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent.

    Leeann Tweeden, a TV host and sports broadcaster, published a photo taken in 2006, showing Senator Franken touching her breasts while she was asleep on a flight back to America.

    Both Ms Tweeden and Senator Franken had been part of a USO (United Service Organisation) tour to entertain US troops.

    According to her account of the tour, published today, Ms Tweeden said that the comedian, who later became the Democratic Junior Senator for Minnesota in 2009, wrote a part for her into the show which involved him kissing her.

    “I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd”, she said.

    However, backstage, Senator Franken insisted that they rehearse the kiss, despite her telling him it was not necessary.

    “He continued to insist… and I was beginning to get uncomfortable,” Ms Tweeden wrote.

    “I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me.

    “We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

    “I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

    “I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

    “I felt disgusted and violated.”

    When she returned to the US, she was looking through a CD of photographs of the trip when she noticed one of Senator Franken groping her while she was asleep.

    “I couldn’t believe it”, she wrote. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.

    “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

    “How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

    Ms Tweeden, who currently works as a news anchor at a Los Angeles radio station, said that a few weeks ago California Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, appeared on her show.

    “She described how a powerful man in the office where she worked ‘held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth’, Ms Tweeden wrote.

    “At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me.”

    In a statement released by Senator Franken, he said: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.

    “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it”.

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